NEW ORLEANS—Sterling Burnett doesn’t always want to sit next to someone he doesn’t know on a train, plane, or bus.
But he’s willing to fight for the freedom of those same strangers when it comes time for them to purchase a motor vehicle.
“What I care about is … your freedom to choose the vehicle of your choice,” Burnett, an environmental policy expert for the Heartland Institute, said during a panel discussion at the free-market think tank’s America First Energy Conference that took a critical look at fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks.
“I don’t think government should be in the business of deciding the characteristics of the vehicle you drive,” Burnett said of the so-called Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. “That’s what CAFE standards do. Automobility is a form of freedom.”
Burnett, a senior fellow on environmental policy at the Heartland Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization based in Illinois, espoused the virtues of automotive freedom:
I take the train, I enjoy the train, and we all fly. And I take buses. But sometimes that’s not my alternative and quite frankly, I don’t always want to sit next to strangers. And maybe I want to listen to a particular kind of music or a news program, and I don’t want plugs in my ears.
When I used to commute to work, I enjoyed my time in the car because it was my time and it wasn’t dominated by work. Cars allow [you] to have the freedom to live outside of inner cities, and to visit distant relatives whenever you want. One hundred years ago, you couldn’t do this.
‘Victory for Consumer Choice’
Congress first enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in 1975 in response to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 that limited gasoline supplies and drove up prices. The idea was to reduce American dependence on foreign oil.
The latest version of CAFE and emissions standards for light-duty vehicles is called SAFE, an acronym for Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.
The Trump administration has proposed a rule change that is a joint initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The two agencies are seeking public comment on regulatory options, according to a press release, “including a preferred alternative that locks in [model year] 2020 standards through 2026, providing a much-needed time-out from further, costly increases.”
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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